What can we do to solve the tough issues facing us?
Whether the issue is gun-control, immigration, farm prices, fair trade, or race equality, chances are everyone is going to have an opinion on it. Chances are also that not many opinions will agree with all others, or chances are that people are just going to see things differently based on their own experiences and upbringing. When it comes to the issues of the current times, the only thing most people can agree on is that they have differing opinions and nothing is going to change their minds.
So where does that leave us with children afraid to go to school, illegals who don't think they are illegal, farmers who can't make a living growing food for everyone else to live on and people who think they are always getting the short end of the stick? It leaves us feeling hopeless, like nothing is ever going to change to solve these important problems. It leaves us angry that others don't see it like we do, and it saps the joy out of what some realize is a much too short existence on a very troubled planet.
As an editor, I would like to think I have the ability to boil down some of these issues to a finer point, where things become clear and solvable. I will be the first to admit, that ability just doesn't exist when it comes to the real problems of the world that need solving. It's because we are all so different. And because of these differences we must work very hard to find things that we can agree on, a place to start listening. Solutions can only be realized when those with opposite viewpoints realize that in reality we are all the same. And the only way to realize that is to follow the example of a great Christian leader who died last week.
Reverend Billy Graham was a great leader. He had opinions just like everyone else, especially about the love of God and moral righteousness of the Christian believer. What Rev. Graham also had was the profound ability to make issues not about himself or his viewpoint, but rather about what was God trying to teach in the moment. What did God want for each of us and what does God want for us to do for each other?
Rev. Graham was highly respected by world leaders, American presidents and by those who took the time to listen to his messages broadcast around the world. I can't say I remember exactly what Rev. Graham said, or there was never a time when he touched my life, but I remember how people responded to him. When he spoke, there was respect. When he prayed, people prayed with him. What he did with his life was to spend it listening to others and offering wisdom.
Could we learn a bit from Rev. Graham at this time on earth when we have trouble agreeing who should be allowed to carry guns and where? Could we practice listening more and talking less? Could we find a way to step-back and be humble and kind instead of mouthy and self-righteous?
A person does not have to even like Rev. Graham to realize that his type of leadership, firm, rooted in moral character developed from listening to a consciousness determined to distinguish right from wrong, was noble. It would be worthy to try to emulate someone like Rev. Graham and heal hurts instead of pour salt into wounds and push others down to climb higher in a fickle society.
We all have a choice in how we live our lives. Respect doesn't just happen. It is learned, practiced, understood and comes from the inside out.
There will always be people with different opinions, humans with evil intent and those rising to power based on self-righteous, self-promoting actions. But we can determine to be different in good ways as well. We can practice thinking first, listening well and working hard to develop a faith like that of Rev. Graham who lived a truly noble life.